Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So It's Come To This

Yup, a list. While thinking about the SF and fantasy creative writing workshop, I came up with a personal list of essential SF titles. Only one title per author, and it ends at 1984 for not quite arbitrary reasons. I have 48 titles so far; anyone care to suggest two more to round the number up to 50? Novels or short-story collections are acceptable. (Yes, I have read them all.)

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus MARY SHELLEY 1818
Journey to the Centre of the Earth JULES VERNE 1863
After London RICHARD JEFFRIES 1885
The Time Machine HG WELLS 1895
The House on the Borderland WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON 1912
Brave New World ALDOUS HUXLEY 1932
Star Maker OLAF STAPLEDON 1937
I, Robot, ISAAC ASIMOV 1950
The Martian Chronicles RAY BRADBURY 1950
The Dying Earth JACK VANCE 1950
Childhood’s End ARTHUR C CLARKE 1953
The Space Merchants CM KORNBLUTH & FREDERIK POHL 1953
Tiger! Tiger! ALFRED BESTER 1956
The Death of Grass JOHN CHRISTOPHER 1956
The Seedling Stars JAMES BLISH 1957
The Midwich Cuckoos JOHN WYNDHAM 1957
Starship Troopers ROBERT A HEINLEIN 1959
A Canticle for Liebowitz WALTER M MILLER JR 1959
Solaris STANSLAW LEM 1961
Hothouse BRIAN ALDISS 1962
A Clockwork Orange ANTONY BURGESS 1962
Cat’s Cradle KURT VONNEGUT JR 1963
Martian Time-Slip PHILIP K DICK 1964
The Crystal World JG BALLARD 1966
Flowers For Algernon DANIEL KEYES 1966
Lord of Light ROGER ZELAZNY 1967
The Left Hand of Darkness URSULA K LE GUIN 1969
The Fifth Head of Cerberus GENE WOLFE 1972
Ten Thousand Light Years From Home JAMES TIPTREE JR 1973
The Forever War JOE HALDEMAN 1974
Inverted World CHRISTOPHER PRIEST 1974
The Female Man JOANNA RUSS 1975
Arslan MJ ENGH 1976
The Ophiuchi Hotline JOHN VARLEY 1977
The Final Programme MICHAEL MOORCOCK 1968
Engine Summer JOHN CROWLEY 1979
Timescape GREGORY BENFORD 1980
Neuromancer WILLIAM GIBSON 1984
Divine Endurance GWYNETH JONES 1984

Next, 50 essential fantasy & horror titles . . .


Anonymous Graham said...

Brunner? Stand on Zanzibar?

March 31, 2009 8:48 pm  
Blogger PeteY said...

Dangerous Visions (1967), ed Harlan Ellison
Bug Jack Barron (1969), Norman Spinrad
The Centauri Device (1975), M. John Harrison

April 01, 2009 4:29 am  
Anonymous Martin said...

Gun, With Occasional Music - John Lethem (1994): science fiction breaking out of the ghetto again

April 01, 2009 9:03 am  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Gun, With Occasional Music - John Lethem (1994): science fiction breaking out of the ghetto again

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson (1992) breaking the stranglehold of stale cyberpunk

April 01, 2009 9:11 am  
Blogger Ian Sales said...

Er, suggestions published before 1984... Such as:

Dhalgren, Samuel Delany
Radix, AA Attanasio
Downbelow Station, CJ Cherryh
A Time of Changes Robert Silverberg
The Dispossessed, Ursual Le Guin
The Centauri Device, M John Harrison

April 01, 2009 9:12 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stand on Zanzibar JOHN BRUNNER (1968)
Ringworld LARRY NIVEN (1970)

April 01, 2009 9:46 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I'm taking notes. If I was doing a 'post-cyberpunk' list, titles by Stephenson and Lethem would definitely be on it. But I want a list of books that are, arguably, safely in the canon, and give a historical as well as a critical perspective. I already have titles by Delany, Le Guin, and Silverberg on the list; whether or not I've chosen the right books by those authors is, I suppose, another aspect of the discussion.

April 01, 2009 9:50 am  
Blogger mckie said...

I second Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar. And I like Walter Tevis, too. The Man Who Fell to Earth rather than Mockingbird, by a nose.

April 01, 2009 4:31 pm  
Anonymous Graham said...

How about something frm Van Vogt? The World of Null-A? Slan

April 01, 2009 4:57 pm  
Blogger Keith Ferrell said...

Michaelmas by Algis Budrys? (pre-cyberpunk cyber-prescience!)

April 03, 2009 7:39 pm  
Blogger Keith Ferrell said...

Or Rogue Moon by Budrys

Beyond Apollo or Herovit's World by Barry Malzberg

April 03, 2009 7:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd third Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, and also suggest:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Herland (1915)

April 05, 2009 10:46 am  
Anonymous James Davis Nicoll said...

No (early, obviously) Niven? No (pre-morosification) Poul Anderson? Although maybe Anderson never got around to writing his One Great Work.

April 05, 2009 5:23 pm  
Anonymous Al R said...

A solid list, Paul. Did you consider Bernard Wolfe's Limbo(1952)? I read it after it featured in Pringle's 100 Best SF Novels and was hugely impressed, although admittedly that was a while ago...

April 06, 2009 12:09 pm  
Anonymous Bob Blough said...

Your list is fantastic. The only one I have not read is ARSLAN. Others I would suggest: WAY STATION or CITY by Clifford D. Simak, NINE HUNDRED GRANDMOTHERS or FOURTH MANSIONS by R.A. Lafferty, DEATHBIRD STORIES by Harlan Ellison (may be on your fantasy list!), TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO by Philip Jose Farmer, THE ALTERATION by Kingsley Amis, TAU ZERO by Poul Anderson, NO ENEMY BUT TIME by Michael Bishop, THE LONG TOMORROW by Leigh Bracket, THE UNSLEEPING EYE by D.G.Compton (had another name in the UK - something like THE CONTINUOUS EYE OF KATHERINE MORTENHOE), STRANGERS by Gardner Dozois, THE PARADOX MEN by Charles L. Harness, THE GLASS BEAD GAME by Herman Hesse, RIDLEY WALKER by Russell Hoban, THE BIG TIME by Fritz Leiber, DREAMSNAKE by Vonda N. McIntyre, BRING THE JUBILEE by Ward Moore, DAVY by Edgar Pangborn, WOMAN ON THE EDGE OF TIME, by Marge Piercy, GATEWAY by Frederik Pohl, THE WILD SHORE by Kim Stanley Robinson, DIMENSION OF MIRACLES by Robert Sheckley, TIK TOK by John Sladek, NORSTRILIA by Cordwainer Smith, THE VOID CAPTAIN'S TALE by Norman Spinrad, EARTH ABIDES by George Stewart, THE DREAMING JEWELS or MORE THAN HUMAN by Theodore Sturgeon, THE SNOW QUEEN by Joan D. Vinge, THE SIRENS OF TITAN by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., WHERE LATE THE SWEET BIRDS SANG by Kate Wilhelm, THE HUMANOIDS by Jack Williamson.
I also agree with LIMBO by Bernard Wolfe, STAND ON ZANZIBAR or JAGGED ORBIT by John Brunner, THE WORLD OF NULL A by A.E. van Vogt, ROGUE MOON by Algis Budrys, BEYOND APOLLO by Barry Malzberg, MOCKINGBIRD or MAN WHO LOST THE SEA by Walter Tevis, and RINGWORLD by Larry Niven.
Whew, sorry - got a bit carried away there - but all of the above are great (And yes, I have read them all, too.)

April 07, 2009 8:49 am  
Anonymous Frank said...

Paul, I've taken the meme into the German community:


Let's see how long it lives.

April 07, 2009 10:20 am  
Anonymous Frank said...

Argh, wrong URL...

This is the one:


April 07, 2009 10:26 am  
Anonymous theproffet said...

Yeah, anthologies and collections need some more spots--perhaps Dangerous Visions or Deathbird Stories? Or The Science Fiction Hall of Fame volumes, both the short stories and novella volumes.

As for the novels . . .
Simak's City
Farmer's To Your Scattered Bodies
Plus the Van Vogt and Brunner mentioned above . . .

But a very good list . . .

April 07, 2009 6:33 pm  
Anonymous James Davis Nicoll said...

I'd go for Neutron Star over Ringworld, myself.

April 08, 2009 9:30 pm  

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